Sacred Hunger

Sacred Hunger

eBook - 2012
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William Kemp owns a slave ship, his nephew and son serve aboard the ship, the crew and human cargo are stranded on the coast of Florida.
Publisher: New York : Anchor Books, [2012]
ISBN: 9780307948441
Branch Call Number: E-BOOK
Characteristics: 1 online resource (604 p.)


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Jan 27, 2020

Mostly I agree with the review below (username: Nellybells); in fact it was that review that convinced me to read this book to begin with. Add to that review the idea that the "sacred hunger" (to colonize, conquer, and enslave) has been one of the prime causes of evil through the centuries, and it would summarize my ideas of the book almost completely. The descriptions are beautifully written and the personalities of the characters are drawn in depth.
I also noted the foreshadowing of the use of the play "The Tempest" in the first half of the book... The use of pidgin struck me as particularly interesting, though the author did not mention that pidgin languages are often spoken differently by the children who learn them than by the adults who were forced by adverse situations to invent them. That slight flaw makes no difference in the effect of the book: this is a great novel of historical fiction.

Jul 20, 2018

A magnificent novel. First read it 20 years ago and all I remembered was the outline of the story and that I couldn't put it down. Again I couldn't put it down. What I had completely forgotten was the pidgin English of the final 100 pages. Brilliant, OMG absolutely brilliant. How Unsworth was able to deliver nuanced and sophisticated ideas spoken by the people in the pidgin dialect that developed over time. The development of pidgin languages has happened all over the world when people of different languages are thrown together. There is so much to this novel--historical versimilitude, the reader really understands how commerce ruled the western world and it was all on the backs of enslaved Africans.
A commenter below felt the pidgin was demeaning to black people. Not so, not so. This is exactly how people of diverse languages communicate in specific settings. Trade, commerce, ports of entry. I am reading a WW2 novel now and on the ships are men from Portugal, Norway, Holland, Morocco and India. There is not one common language among them and they communicate using a pidgin English of about 300 words. The ship's work gets done!

SnoIsleLib_LindsayH Jun 02, 2017

Those fond of literary fiction and heavier historical fiction will enjoy this painfully beautiful masterpiece. This incredible novel has really stuck with me through the years and I reflect on frequently. The beginning is a little slow, but is well worth pushing through. Unsworth elegantly uses the story of a 18th century slave ship to show the reader the horrific immorality of how humans can justify any act as long as it is profitable.

Aug 02, 2012

This Booker winning novel, set in Liverpool in 1752, is about the slave trade. It is about greed offset by hope.

Jul 04, 2011

I was utterly enthralled by this book initially; I was enamored of the language and deeply invested in the story about the people aboard a slave ship in the 1700s.
Alas, at some point after the middle of the book, the author lost me. He skipped ahead in time when I was so invested in the time in which he had put me. The reliance in the later chapters on pidgin English was wearisome and offensive.
The famous abolitionist, Frederick Douglass, was born a slave but his English was grammatically correct and as elegant as it was powerful. The idea that the white men and the Africans could only communicate by all sides using pidgin English was irritating, demeaning and distracting.
I wish the author had done it differently because before that the book had me by the heart.


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May 19, 2012

Penguin UK (PB) | September 23, 2008 | Trade Paperback

Through the story of an 18th century slave ship, this novel explores moral choices, the corruptions of greed and material gain, and men's behaviour "in extremis". It also articulates current concerns of corruption and distress. The author was awarded the 1992 Booker Prize for this novel.


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